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030420FRONTCHRISTENING.jpg

Christening Cooperstown"Top photo shows some of the dignitaries who gathered in Marinette on Saturday, Feb. 29 for the christening of LCS 23 - the future USS Cooperstown. On-stage in the main construction building at the Fincantieri/Marinette Marine shipyard are some of the speakers, including Honorary Sponsor Jane Forbes Clark, Congressman Mike Gallagher, seated next to the speaker's podium, and on the far right, Ship Sponsor Alba Tull, who later christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne across the hull. Bottom photo shows Clark and Tull in front of the ship, while the champagne bottle is being prepared for the christening. LCS 23 is the first ship named in honor of Cooperstown, New York, and received its name on July 25, 2015, during a ceremony there at the Cooperstown National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Her name honors the 64 baseball stars commemorated in the Baseball Hall of Fame who served in conflicts ranging from the Civil War through the Korean War. Clark is chairman of the board of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, which was founded by her grandfather.

LCS Cooperstown Christened Saturday At Marinette Marine

Issue Date: March 5, 2020

Wisconsin weather cooperated beautifully for the crowd that gathered on the banks of the Menominee River at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard on Saturday, Feb. 29 for the christening of Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 23, the future USS Cooperstown.

Ship sponsor Alba Tull christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne across the hull, and was joined by honorary sponsor Jane Forbes Clark in saluting the vessel and workers who built it.

The ship was launched sideways into the icy waters of the Menominee River on Jan. 19, and is slated to begin sea trials later this year. Keel of the vessel was laid at the Marinette Marine shipyard on Aug. 14, 2018.

LCS 23 is the 12th Freedom-variant LCS, the 23rd in the class. She is the first ship named in honor of Cooperstown, New York. Cooperstown received its name on July 25, 2015, during a ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which is located in Cooperstown. Her name honors the veterans who are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame located in the namesake city. These 64 men served in conflicts ranging from the Civil War through the Korean War.

"I am honored to serve as the sponsor for the next-generation ship Cooperstown," said Tull. "The ship's design and capabilities will keep our sailors safe as they carry out important missions to protect our nation and allied nations around the world."

Tull added the connection between baseball and the United States Navy: "Throughout all the trials and tribulations of our country, "...baseball has been part of the narrative that gives people continuity...It is part of the American fabric. That fabric is protected and given as a privilege to us by the U. S. Navy."

"Cooperstown represents the represents the best of Americana, Cooperstown represents the best of baseball," Clark declared, and added, "Baseball is our national pastime and the connection between our Hall of Famers and our military are strong." Tull is nationally recognized as a multi-disciplined fine art gallery and commercial photographer and film director who has established herself in the industry by working with some of the most iconic personalities of our time. She is the wife of billionaire businessman and film producer Thomas Tull, who is a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Clark is Chairman of the Board of Directors of The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, and in 2017 was ranked as the most influential woman in baseball in USA Today's list of the 100 most influential people in the National Pastime. She is the granddaughter of Hall of Fame founder Stephen C. Clark, and serves as a liaison between the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, for which LCS 23 is being named, and the players who return yearly to welcome new inductees.

Clark said the 68 United States veterans honored at the Cooperstown Hall of Fame were outstanding baseball players who served in conflicts starting with the Civil War and running through World War II and the Korean War.

"Christening the 12th Freedom-variant LCS at our shipyard is a testament to the hard work and expertise of the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipbuilders," said Jan Allman, Fincantieri Marinette Marine CEO. "It also is a reflection of our strong partnership with the U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin and the capabilities of Team Freedom."

"The versatility, speed and lethality of the LCS make it a critical tool to help sailors achieve their missions," said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president of small combatants and ship systems. "Today's christening brings the USS Cooperstown one step closer to joining a capable fleet of ships supporting Navy missions in a multitude of ways."

He said the success of the LCS program in Marinette comes down to the human element - from the shipyard workers who construct the ship with integrity to the sailors who will eventually man her.

Marinette Marine President Admiral Richard W. Hunt also praised the workers at the shipyard and the Wisconsin work ethic in general, and credited them with enabling Marinette Marine to be the best partner that the United States Navy has, and give the sailors who defend this nation the best ships possible.

Also present for the christening ceremony was Navy Sr. Chief Rafael Acevedo and others who will be part of the ship's first crew and will be manning the vessel when it goes through sea trials on Lake Michigan later this year.

The future USS Cooperstown has some "smart ship" features that Acevedo said he is eager to experience. The Freedom-variant LCS ships are capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and are automated with the most efficient staffing of any combat ship. They are equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute, as standard and is flexible with 40 percent of the hull easily reconfigurable, integrating capabilities like the Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30mm guns, and manned and unmanned vehicles targeted to meet future missions.

Several more Freedom-variant ships are under construction at the Marinette shipyard. The future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS 21) was christened in June last year. Additional ships in the production phase include the future USS Marinette (LCS 25), Nantucket (LCS 27) and Beloit (LCS 29), and Cleveland (LCS 31) in the pre-production phase.

 To date, four Freedom-variant LCS have deployed to support U.S. Navy presence and peacekeeping missions. In the latest of these deployments, USS Little Rock (LCS 9) deployed in February 2020 to support operations in the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility.

 In total, there are more than 500,000 nautical miles under the keel of Freedom-variant LCS. The ship delivers advanced capability in anti-submarine, surface and mine countermeasure missions, and was designed to evolve with the changing security environment.

Lockheed Martin is partnering with the Navy to evolve LCS to meet new and greater threats. Targeted upgrades are already underway with naval strike missiles being installed in support of upcoming deployments. Future installs of improved electronic warfare and decoy launching systems are under development.

There may not be many more of the impressive sideways launches for vessels built at Marinette Marine. The shipyard is preparing for a major expansion and installation of a "syncrolift" made possible by a $29 million Harbor Assistance Program grant that was announced by Gov. Tony Evers.

Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot said the grant funds are specifically designated for acquisition and installation of the syncrolift. With the syncrolift ships can be lowered gently into the water rather than slipped in sideways with the resulting splash and wake. With the new launching capability, vessels larger than the LCS can be built and launched at Marinette Marine. Without it, that could not happen.

The City of Marinette is actual recipient of the grant funds and will set up administrative accountability for distributing them, Genisot said.

Contracts for LCS vessels are coming to an end, but with the new launch capability Marinette Marine has been awarded a part in the new $1.96 billion four-ship multi-mission surface combatant contract that involves an agreement between the US Department of Defense and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia involving war-fighting ships with a design based on the LCS, but slightly larger. This in turn could lead to contracts for the next generation of specialty ships for the United Sates Navy, the highly advanced guided missile frigate known as FFG(X).


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